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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 212.219.233.223
Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 11:57 am:   

I have been thinking about horror recently. Well, for quite a while, in fact; and it seems to me that, broadly speaking, the genre can be divided into two types:

(a) Supernatural Horror,
(b) Non-Supernatural Horror.

Ignoring overlaps between these types (which do exist, bizarre as that might seem), we might venture the opinion that both types can be effective and scary, but that the best horror of type b infers a bleaker, stronger and more horrific message than type a.

I mean that the logical consequences of type b are more difficult and troublesome for the human psyche to endure than the logical consequences of type a once we fully understand what those necessary logical consequences are...

Anyway, to this end, I have written a blog which briefly examines the subject. It's a guest blog actually, which I wrote after receiving an invite from the author Sam Stone. Anyway, I choose my own candidate for the title "Ultimate Existentialist Horror".

You don't have to agree with me, and almost certainly you won't. But that's not just my fault: it's your fault as well!

So now! Here's the blog in question:
http://sam-stone.blogspot.com/2011/03/guest-blog-from-fantasy-magic-realism.html

Enjoy! Or don't enjoy!
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.93.21.68
Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 12:18 pm:   

Interesting piece, Rhys - Dean Koontz reached similar conclusions in his afterword to the Post Mortem anthology - but I think it overlooks the considerable number of tales in which the demon or other supernatural presence manifests something from within the central character, something they have denied about themselves, usually. This isn't to say it can be explained away psychologically, but rather that the psychological element adds to its power. "Green Tea" is an early classic of the mode. I do agree with you about the "comfortable horror" of the likes of The Omen - it's a trend I've tried to work against for most of my career.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 212.219.233.223
Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 12:25 pm:   

Thanks Ramsey!

I avoided saying anything about psychology because it would have weakened (i.e. ruined) my argument.

I just enjoy logical games for their own sake, I guess. Whereas other people look for truth, I tend to look for opportunities for paradox instead.

I'm not quite as smug as that tendency makes me look, honest!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 12:35 pm:   

I believe the logical consequences of type a are actually much more troublesome and difficult for the human psyche to assimilate. The existence of the supernatural, or the paranormal, implies that we don't have all the answers and that sentient forces exist beyond our imagining. That is why the subject is generally treated with ridicule, to hide the fear of taking it seriously. The religious/mystical impulse comes from our awareness of this fear of the unknown (and the unknowable) and our struggle, as a race, to come to terms with it.

We all know we are the spawn of blind Nature and beasts at heart, who will do anything to survive if the circumstances dictate, and slaves to our sexual impulse to procreate - so deep down we are beyond shocking, as a race, by any of the implications of type b horror.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 212.219.233.223
Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 12:47 pm:   

I disagree Stevie.

Type a implies an afterlife.
Type b implies endless oblivion.

I think that Richard Dawkins is right about nearly everything. I therefore find him a vastly more scary figure than any werewolf or vampire or demon I'm likely (or unlikely) to meet.

If I ever met a werewolf, vampire or demon in the woods I'd cry, "Dawkins, baby, you were wrong!" with glee in my heart, just before I was torn to pieces, sucked dry or frazzled to a crisp!

But if I ever met Richard Dawkins in the woods, there would be no glee in my heart, none at all. I'd tremble all over and whimper, "So it's back to oblivion for me when I'm dead, is it? The same oblivion that I was immersed in before I was born?"... And he would just nod. That's scary!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 12:53 pm:   

What is most terrifying for the human mind to comprehend is the possibility that death may not be the end and the realisation that we have no idea what might come after - for all eternity... <gulp>

Give me the comfort of sweet oblivion anytime, and the end of responsibility for our actions that this implies!
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 212.219.233.223
Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 12:58 pm:   

"The fury of the tempest immediately died away, and a dead calm sullenly succeeded. A white flame still enveloped the building like a shroud, and, streaming far away into the quiet atmosphere, shot forth a glare of scientifically explicable light; while a cloud of smoke settled heavily over the battlements in the distinct colossal figure of RICHARD DAWKINS!"
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Jonathan (Jonathan)
Username: Jonathan

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.143.178.131
Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 01:17 pm:   

"I think that Richard Dawkins is right about nearly everything."

There's faith in action for you! Sorry, couldn't resist.
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Jonathan (Jonathan)
Username: Jonathan

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.143.178.131
Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 01:18 pm:   

By the way, has anyone seen that South Park episode where in the future two tribes go to war over the correct interpretation on Dawkin's writings?

Just brilliant.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 03:23 pm:   

My point is that we need more Agnosticism in the world and less Faith.

But then that's always been my point...
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 212.219.233.223
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 10:21 am:   

My latest news on this issue is as follows:

It turns out that Scooby-Doo isn't a (badly) talking dog after all! His "body" is a suit. His mask was recently pulled off to reveal... The Undead Corpse of Richard Dawkins!

Fortunately, this undead corpse proved to be a robot. Its head was ripped off to reveal... The Ghost in the Machine!

Amazing, huh?
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 11:13 am:   

I noted a recent 'Fortean Times' article highlighting Dawkins increased attacks, of late, against all manner of belief in or investigation of the paranormal, psychic phenomena, etc.

He has progressed from bashing organised religion (rightly so) to bashing Agnostics (such as myself) to ridiculing any serious research into paranormal phenomena (some scientist!).

All of which goes to prove my point about type a horror being by far the more disturbing and difficult to assimilate for the human psyche than type b horror - at least for Richard Dawkins lol.
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.93.21.68
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 12:56 pm:   

So has Dawkins moved on from this position (which I find pretty reasonable) or has he been misquoted or misrepresented? To be clear, I don't know, which is why I'm asking.

http://www.teachersyndicate.com/2011uploads/albums/121/activitybooks/science/Ric hard_Dawkins_Articles_A%20scientist_s%20view%20_59_.pdf
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.122.108.107
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 01:53 pm:   

Dawkins is slamming a lot of things even believers in the paranormal consider bunk. I don't think he's very widely read on the subject.

The other night I got very upset by something Julie Birchill said about abortion, and it lingered with me all day. Next night I put on Bergman's Persona, which I've never seen, and found it dealt quite strongly with the subject. It was odd, an unprovable odd thing. Am I happy thinking that this is the level that the paranormal works at, that it moves along the boundary where it's quite safe but still being noticed?
I don't think I'll ever know, but it keeps happening this way.
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Jonathan (Jonathan)
Username: Jonathan

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.143.178.131
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 02:00 pm:   

Dawkins I like on some levels, but he does seem to have lead to a certain type of unquestioning fundamentalist atheism that sees all those who hold any kind of religious belief as automatically being unthinking idiots who are deeply flawed in some way. Which I don't think is entirely fair.
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 02:11 pm:   

Dawkins does indeed seem to link religious faith with deep stupidity (as do some people on this board sadly).

Personally, I can't stand the guy.
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Jonathan (Jonathan)
Username: Jonathan

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.143.178.131
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 02:15 pm:   

Well, it's also his refusal to see that anything of any value has come through religious thought or discourse. It seems to be the academic equivalent of sticking his fingers in his ears and not listening to anything that conflicts with or questions his theories. I have absolutely no problem with atheism and humanist philosophy (two of my favourite comedians (Richard Herring and Daniel Kitson) take this approach), but I do object to this sort of unthinking atheism, if you see what I mean.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.122.108.107
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 02:17 pm:   

Me too. I'm not especially religious, but where it hurts no-one I see no problem with it in the world at all. And i'll defend to the grave people's right to be stupid if they want, if it makes the world go round in a pleasant enough manner.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 04:00 pm:   

Ramsey, that's another one of the one-sided diatribes serious students of paranormal phenomena always have to contend with. Dawkins' logic (as with the "Amazing" Randi) is to concentrate on the publicity seeking charlatans. They seem to believe that by duplicating their tricks they are demonstrating that all belief in or serious study of such phenomena as telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, near death experiences, etc must be bunk and that to spend time seeking out and properly investigating those non-publicity seeking individuals or cases that appear to demonstrate such phenomena is a waste of time. Where's the scientific logic in that?!?!

This fear of seriously tackling the paranormal in a non-confrontational open-minded way demonstrates starkly the faith based need of such firebrand preachers as Dawkins & Randi to deny, deny, deny any possibility that science and the human brain has limitations. It is the terror of there possibly being an afterlife (that would shatter their world view irreparably) that makes them so vitriolic and illogical in their attacks. Dawkins is shit scared of the possibility that infinite consciousness exists and the sooner he admits to that fallibility in his reasoning the sooner the debate can move on... into reasoned Agnosticism, where it belongs.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 06:14 pm:   

It is the terror of there possibly being an afterlife (that would shatter their world view irreparably) that makes them so vitriolic and illogical in their attacks. Dawkins is shit scared of the possibility that infinite consciousness exists and the sooner he admits to that fallibility in his reasoning the sooner the debate can move on... into reasoned Agnosticism, where it belongs.

Sorry, Stevie, gotta disagree with you here. This is the same exact argument that can be used by organized religions against, well... you. You simply cannot accept the terror of, say, Roman Catholicism's absolute and unshakeable truths - you've not read enough into it (and whatever you've read, ipso facto, isn't enough until you've accepted its truths), and you're simply afraid that its eschatology is True and Real, and so your mind is flailing wildly to prevent its being seen as truth. You need to abandon your fear-based Agnosticism, and bring your mind round to reasoned Roman Catholicism, where it belongs.

(Devil's Advocate, but you know what I mean. I think it a grave mistake to rely on the evidence of the other's/s' fears, as support for a truth. My parents, for example, use the arguments above on me to this day! I can't have misgivings about RC, I can't be honest and truthfully distrusting of it - it has to be me resisting because of its implications, because I'm too afraid to accept it, because I've not read enough, etc. Don't go down this road.)
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Stephen Theaker (Stephen_theaker)
Username: Stephen_theaker

Registered: 12-2009
Posted From: 92.232.184.206
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 07:22 pm:   

If Richard Dawkins met a werewolf in the woods it wouldn't upset his world view at all, any more than it did when scientists saw the duckbilled platypus or the komodo dragon. It wouldn't change his attitude that it's not worth believing in things unless there's a good reason to believe in them.

Meeting a werewolf, he would simply say, "Ah, so they exist after all!" and begin to work out how it evolved - assuming he managed to get away in time...
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.17.254.215
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 09:21 pm:   

Craig, how can you honestly equate any organised religion, with all the dogmatic bullshit that entails, with the open-minded stance of Agnosticism?

I am truly baffled? Or didn't you notice my repeated use of the word "possibility" in the above post?

Faith is the polar opposite of Agnosticism and of Science - whether that be Faith in a God or Faith in Atheism. It is my contention that Richard Dawkins is as much an enemy of Science as he is of Religion or Agnosticism. And my Spock-like logic is faultless on this issue, so there lol.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 10:36 pm:   

Stevie, to say that Dawkins bases all his beliefs on the fear of "the possibility that infinite consciousness exists" - you could easily say as well, that Dawkins bases all his beliefs on the fear that Jesus was the actual Son of God; or the fear that the Easter Bunny actually exists; or the fear that on some other planet a superior race has discovered the actual Creator of the Universe, locating that Creator in an entity about which we have no idea.

Also, one can "fear the possibility that infinite consciousness exists" to the root of one's soul AND hold atheistic positions, or agnostic positions. I fear Lovecraft might have been right. I fear Nietzsche's eternal reccurrence might be right. I too am an agnostic, though. And in that respect, I fear that the RCs might be right, and the Hindus might be, and the Buddhists. But that's not why I'm agnostic.

And how would I solve this dilemma if it were? I guess I'd have to become a Buddhist-Hindu Roman Catholic-Nietzschean worshipper of Cthulhu.

It's unfair for you to impute baser motives upon Dawkins, and not simply think that he might instead be using faulty reasoning (and so prove systematically how flawed his thinking is, which I think is entirely doable), that's all I'm saying.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 212.219.233.223
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 11:11 am:   

> If Richard Dawkins met a werewolf in the woods it wouldn't upset his world view at all...

True, doubtless; but if Ray Mears met a werewolf in the woods he would probably try to learn some aspect of bushcraft from the hirsute shapeshifting beast previously unknown to him.
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 11:19 am:   

"Faith is the polar opposite of Agnosticism and of Science "

A locical impossibility - it can't be the polar opposite of two things at once...
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 11:19 am:   

logical
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 212.219.233.223
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 11:29 am:   

A penguin is the polar opposite of a xylophone and a trombone.

I know this because a werewolf told me...
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 11:34 am:   

It's only penguins that can do that...
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.17.254.215
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 12:15 pm:   

Agnosticism is the polar opposite of Faith. It is the unashamed embracing of doubt and the limitations of human knowledge.

Science rightly denies Faith as patently illogical and attempts to widen the sphere of human knowledge by logical progression based on available evidence, theorising and experimentation.

Agnosticism and Science work hand in glove, one acting as a spur to the other. Dawkins' hawklike Faith in the non-existence of a God or Conscious Universe is not good Science because Science has yet to get anywhere near the subject. Someday we may approach an understanding of the true nature of existence and consciousness and until that time it is the Agnostic's job to proclaim reasoned doubt and point out the questions Science has yet to answer, and those it never can.
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.93.21.68
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 12:33 pm:   

I think I'm with you there, Stevie.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.17.254.215
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 01:44 pm:   

Thanks, Ramsey!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.17.254.215
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 01:51 pm:   

...and Happy St Patrick's Day to you and all here!!

Now I'm off to sink a few dozen Guinness...
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.166.117.210
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 02:33 pm:   

Happy Paddy's Day, Stevie.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 06:23 pm:   

>>...and Happy St Patrick's Day to you and all here!!<<

Same to you, Stevie.

My sister-in-law sent over a bunch of shamrock today. It looks a bit worse for wear. Have you any idea how to revive shamrock, Stevie?
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.17.254.215
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011 - 10:35 am:   

Place it on a layer of cotton wool or tissue paper in a saucer of water on a bright windowsill.
I'm sure I've seen my Mum doing that, Caroline.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011 - 01:28 pm:   

Aw, thanks Stevie. I did try to revive it in a little pot of water but it was almost yellow today so I decided to put it out of it's misery and throw it in the bin. I think the flight across the Irish Sea, squashed into an envelope, was too much for it.

I hope that doesn't mean that's the way our luck's going to go! Good thing I'm not superstitious in any way.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.17.254.215
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011 - 02:04 pm:   

Sounds like it drowned lol. Never worry, Caroline.

I've got a bit of a Paddy's Day hangover to cure... so it's Guinness time again!
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011 - 02:18 pm:   

Hair of the dog, eh?
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.93.21.68
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011 - 03:30 pm:   

"I did try to revive it in a little pot of water but it was almost yellow today so I decided to put it out of its misery and throw it in the bin."

For heaven's sake rescue it if it's not too late, Caroline! Remember the old rhyme

Throw a shamrock in the bin,
Be chased by something dead and thin
.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.31.133.89
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011 - 03:49 pm:   

Especially if you put it in the wrong bin. It's a new local authority initiative responding to EU ruling on recyclable refuse. The Tories are recruiting recently arisen corpses on a voluntary basis to contribute to Big Society.
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011 - 03:58 pm:   

No, those are NHS workers who can't afford to eat...
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011 - 08:56 pm:   

>>For heaven's sake rescue it if it's not too late, Caroline! Remember the old rhyme

Throw a shamrock in the bin,
Be chased by something dead and thin.<<

Eeek! Not heard that one before, Ramsey. I wish you hadn't said that now ...

Oh well, I'll just have to take my chances - it's covered in all kinds of rubbish at the bottom of the bin by now.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.118.79.219
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011 - 09:10 pm:   

so it's Guinness time

A fine brew, I drink it nearly every day. Took me a while to get used to the bitterness (being used to a quencher named Geuze), but I like the warm glow it provides. It soothes and unlike most Belgian potions never gives me a headache. Makes me quite sociable, too.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.79.21.133
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011 - 09:57 pm:   

Try Murphy's, if you can get it. It's a black stout, but not as bitter as Guinness. A proper old man's drink.
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Allybird (Allybird)
Username: Allybird

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 88.104.137.65
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011 - 09:58 pm:   

'....so it's Guinness time.'

Wonderful brew!
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.79.21.133
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2011 - 10:07 pm:   

Try Murphy's, if you can get it. It's a black stout, but not as bitter as Guinness. A proper old man's drink.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 212.219.233.223
Posted on Saturday, March 19, 2011 - 11:25 am:   

Beamish is even better.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.118.79.219
Posted on Saturday, March 19, 2011 - 11:44 am:   

I don't think I've seen those over here. Actually, last summer I had more than a few with a trio of Irish musicians who happened to be in the 'hood, and they assured me that the quality of the Guinness here couldn't be bettered. I hear a lot about English ales drawn exclusively from the casket, like Timothy Landlord.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.118.79.219
Posted on Saturday, March 19, 2011 - 11:45 am:   

That's Timothy Taylor's.
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Degsy (Degsy)
Username: Degsy

Registered: 08-2010
Posted From: 86.155.158.13
Posted on Saturday, March 19, 2011 - 10:35 pm:   

I remember in the days before the invention of 'The Widget', 6-pack bottles of draught Guinness used to come with a ridiculous little syringe which you used to spritz the glass with and thereby generate an ersatz head.

Thank goodness for the march of science!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.17.254.215
Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011 - 06:38 am:   

From pondering the secrets of the universe to the glory of Guinness! I like this thread.

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